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Master the Art of Saying No with Negatives in Spanish

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Saying no in Spanish might sound quite easy, especially considering that the word “no” is used in both Spanish and English. However, there are some tricks and rules you’ll need to learn in order to master this important aspect of day-to-day conversations. The good news is that once you have these rules down, you’ll be able to make negative commands in Spanish, politely decline something, or answer a question in the negative. 

You should know that there are some grammar rules in English that don’t quite apply in Spanish. For starters, the use of double negatives—which is a grammatical error in English—is considered correct in Spanish and is very common. The usage of plural nouns is different as well, and of course, exact phrases and expressions differ.

But don’t worry! As always, we’re here to help. 

In this article, we’ll teach you…

  • …the most common negative words in Spanish.
  • …the basic negation forms and structures you should know. 
  • …how to form negative questions and answers. 
  • …how to use double negatives in Spanish.
  • …and more! 

You’ll want to master the art of making negative sentences early on, as they’re essential to even the most basic conversations. So, keep reading and get ready to improve your Spanish with SpanishPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview
  2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples
  3. Double Negatives
  4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish
  5. La despedida

1. Negation in Spanish: An Overview

The most basic way to make a sentence negative in Spanish is to place a “no” before the verb and after the subject. Following this very simple rule, you can start using basic negation in your conversations:

  • Subject + No + Verb

Let’s see some examples of positive sentences turned to negative following this rule:

Quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

No quiero ir de vacaciones a la playa este verano.
I don’t want to go on vacation to the beach this summer.

Llegar a la estación de tren es fácil.
Getting to the train station is easy.

Llegar a la estación de tren no es fácil.
Getting to the train station is not easy.

As for compound sentences that have more than one verb, you’ll have to place the “no” before the first verb.

Este viaje ha sido muy divertido.
This trip has been very fun.

Este viaje no ha sido muy divertido.
This trip hasn’t been very fun.

However, placing the “no” before the verb is not the only way to make negative sentences in Spanish. Just like in English, there are other words you can use (never, neither, nobody, etc.) to the same effect. Below are some examples of how to use the most common Spanish negation words.

1- Most Common Negative Words in Spanish

Nunca – Never

  • Yo nunca he ido a Europa.
    I have never been to Europe.

Nada – Nothing / Anything

  • No quiero comer nada.
    I don’t want to eat anything.

Nadie – Nobody

  • Nadie vino a la fiesta. 
    Nobody came to the party.

Ni – Neither / Nor

* When the verb appears before the ni in a sentence, that verb has to be negative.

  • Ni yo ni mi hermana fuimos al tour.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.
  • No fuimos al tour ni yo ni mi hermana.
    Neither I nor my sister went to the tour.

Ningun (o) (a) – None / Any

* Ninguno is a pretty unique negative word. When using it, you have to change the ending according to the grammatical gender of the noun that follows.

  • A: ¿Qué ciudad te gustó más, Praga o Berlín? 
    B: No me gustó ninguna. 
    A: Which city did you like the most, Prague or Berlin?
    B: I didn’t like either.
  • Ninguno de los asientos estaba vacío.
    None of the seats were free.
  • A: ¿Tuviste algún problema durante tu viaje? 
    B: No, no tuve ningún problema.
    A: Did you have any issues during your trip?
    B: No, I didn’t have any.

Tampoco – Neither / Either

  • Tu pasaporte no ha expirado todavía, el mío tampoco. 
    Your passport hasn’t expired yet, neither has mine.
  • ¿Entiendes Aleman? Nosotros tampoco entendemos.
    Do you understand German? We don’t understand either.

Todavía no – Not yet / Still not

  • Todavía no he terminado de empacar. 
    I haven’t finished packing yet.

Ya no – Not anymore / No longer

  • Ya no tengo efectivo, debería ir al cajero.
    I no longer have any cash, I should go to the ATM.
  • A: ¿Todavía piensas ir a esquiar este invierno? 
    B: Ya no.
    A: Are you still planning on going skiing this winter?
    B: Not anymore.

Sin / Without

  • No puedo viajar sin mi suéter favorito.
    I can’t travel without my favorite sweater.

A Guy Trying to Figure Out How to Pack Things into His Van

No estamos listos todavía. / We are not ready yet.

2- Affirmative and Negative Words in Spanish

Another important thing to remember is that, just like in English, many negative words in Spanish have a positive counterpart. By replacing a positive word with a negative word, you can turn a positive sentence into a negative one (and vice-versa). These positive words are also called indefinite words as they refer to persons, things, animals, etc. that are not specifically defined.  

Negative WordsPositive (Indefinite) Words
Nunca / NeverSiempre / Always
Nada / NothingAlgo / Something
Nadie / NobodyAlguien / Somebody
Ni / Neither, NorO / Or
Ninguno / NoneAlguno / Some, Any
Tampoco / NeitherTambién / Also, Too

Example:

Yo tampoco viajo en barco. / I don’t travel by boat either.
Yo también viajo en barco. / I travel by boat too.

2. Negative Questions and Answers: Rules and Examples

Two Women Looking at a Bus Schedule

¿No sabes dónde está la estación de autobús? / Don’t you know where the bus station is?

When asking negative questions in Spanish or giving negative answers, you have to keep in mind that Spanish has no equivalent for the English word “don’t.” For this reason, you’ll have to use no twice when answering (more on this in a little bit). Let’s see some examples!

Question: ¿Te gustó el viaje? / Did you like the trip?
Answer: No, no me gustó. / No, I didn’t like it.

Question: ¿No visitaste la torre Eiffel? / Didn’t you visit the Eiffel Tower?
Answer: No, no la visité. / No, I didn’t visit it.

3. Double Negatives

A Woman Grabbing Her Luggage at the Airport

Yo nunca antes viajé sola. / I never traveled alone before.

You might have heard a million times from your elementary school teacher that using double negatives is a no-no. For example, the following sentences would be grammatically incorrect in English: 

I don’t want no food.
I don’t like nobody.

This is because, in English, the two negative words cancel each other out. But this rule does not apply to Spanish grammar!

Negative expressions in Spanish are often formed using the so-called double negative. This is considered correct, and in some cases, it’s even required. In Spanish, the double negative reinforces the sentence

The formula is:

  • No + Verb + Negative word

Some examples:

    Ella no trajo nada de alimentos al campamento. / She didn’t bring any food to the camp.
    No me acompañó nadie al aeropuerto. / Nobody came with me to the airport.
    Yo no disfruto nunca de los viajes en autobús. / I never enjoy bus trips.
    A él no le gustó ninguno de los platillos locales. / He didn’t like any of the local dishes.
    Yo no bebo tampoco. / I don’t drink either.

Directly translating double negatives might sound very odd to you, which is why we recommend becoming familiar with the sounds and structures of Spanish without translating what you hear word for word. This is the best way to become fluent faster.

4. A Few More Negative Expressions in Spanish

Women with Delayed Flight Sleeping in the Airport

No veo el tren por ningún lado, debe estar retrasado. / I don’t see the train anywhere, it must be delayed.

Last but not least, here’s a list of very useful negative expressions in Spanish that will come in handy during your travels in Spanish-speaking countries.

1- No entiendo nada. / I don’t understand anything.

No entiendo nada, ¿podrías repetir por favor?
I don’t understand anything, could you repeat please?

2- No falta nada. / Nothing is missing.

Antes de irnos debemos asegurarnos que no falte nada en nuestras mochilas.
Before we leave we have to make sure nothing is missing from our backpacks.

3- Por ningún lado / Anywhere

¿Has visto mi chamarra? No la encuentro por ningún lado.
Have you seen my jacket? I can’t find it anywhere.

4- No pasa nada. / It’s okay.

No pasa nada, vamos a encontrar tu cartera.
It’s okay, we will find your wallet.

5- Todavía no / Not yet

A: ¿Estás lista? 
B: Todavía no.

A: Are you ready?
B: Not yet.

6- De ninguna manera / By no means

De ninguna manera saldrás solo después de las 11 de la noche.
By no means will you go out alone after 11 at night.

7- Ya no / No longer

Ya no quiero ir.
I no longer want to go.

  • For more useful negative words in Spanish, see our vocabulary list for rejecting an invitation and check out this video:

5. La despedida

In this guide, you’ve learned all the basics you’ll need to master negation in Spanish: 

  • The most important negative words in Spanish
  • The different rules involved in Spanish sentence negation 
  • The most common negative expressions in Spanish

You’ve also seen many examples, so you can start trying to make your own sentences right away.

Is there anything you would like to learn about Spanish negation that we didn’t cover here? Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and ideas, and we’ll make sure to answer any questions that might come up!

Remember that SpanishPod101 offers a great library of resources to help you in every step of your language learning journey. Learn or review all the basics with our guides and lessons for beginners, grow your vocabulary, or master your pronunciation with a free lifetime account. Better still, upgrade to a Premium PLUS membership and gain access to our MyTeacher service to take 1-on-1 lessons with your own personal tutor! 

Don’t know where to begin? Why not start by reading some more of our blog entries for inspiration?

Happy learning! Y ¡Hasta luego!

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